Day of the Dead

The Mexican Culture Society and Global Lounge celebrate Day of the Dead
Monday 2 November

What is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday where family and friends gather to remember those close to them who have died.

The Mexican Culture Society explored and celebrated this annual festivity with The Global Lounge, with guest speakers delivering live and interactive presentations from both the UK and Mexico, explaining what happens during this annual festivity!

Although celebrations couldn’t take place in-person, the Mexican Culture Society planned a full programme of events to mark this important holiday, which honours and celebrates the deceased.

Speakers introduced the festivity and its importance in Mexican culture, including how it’s celebrated in the capital of Mexico, Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco) as well as El Xantolo in the Huasteca region. Speakers shared their experience of living in these parts of Mexico and what you can expect to experience during the Day of the Dead celebrations – which lasts several days – including music, shrines, and the cemetery! Also explained was one of most recognisable symbols of The Day of the Dead celebrations – a tall female skeleton wearing a hat with feathers – La Catrina, who was borne from illustrator José Guadalupe Posada.

Let’s talk about food!

Attendees got to find out about popular food, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) and the significance of its shape and structure – find out how to make ‘Bread of the Dead’ by heading to the Mexican Culture Society’s video on YouTube!

They also talked about a traditional mesoamerican dish, made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf – tamales! Not only available as a savoury and spicy food – but also sweet – this is a popular Mexican food with big cultural importance. Tamales, or ‘tamal’ in Spanish, are even mentioned in proverbs and phrases – ‘whenever something goes wrong, eat tamal. Whenever something goes fine, eat it as well’.

Like the sound of tamales? Have a go at making your own!

The event ended with an explanation of Calaveritas Literarias – short verses written in the form of epitaphs to mock celebrities, politicians, friends and family members! These rhymes or phrases – which were once banned – are popular in Mexico around October and November during Day of the Dead celebrations.

See the full event below, and discover more about this fascinating festivity.

The programme of events:

00:00 – 02:00 – Welcome from the Global Lounge
02:01 – 08:44 – Introduction to the festivity
08:45 – 22:35 – Celebrations in Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco)
24:15 – 41:07 – El Xantolo
42:03 – 50:22 – La Catrina
52:10 – 1:02:21 – Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)
1:02:22 – 1:12:46 – Tamales
1:15:45 –1:21:33 – Calaveritas Literarias
1:25:02 – Event end

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Global Carnival 2020

An evening of entertainment and activities from across the globe for students and staff!

On Wednesday 11 March, over two hundred students and staff gathered to enjoy an annual showcase of dance and music performances, organised by the Global Lounge in collaboration with Bristol Students’ Union and International Students’ Network.

Trying something new

There was something for everyone to enjoy with a range of craft and activity stalls followed by a diverse programme of performances from across the globe.

Visitors could try their hand at origami making, solve Palestinian folklore riddles and see beautiful examples of traditional outfits from the Friends of Palestine society. There were also Lebanese food samples to taste and food samples and games from the Mexican Culture Society. The delicious vegan Thai curry was a hit – served to all guests as part of the festivities!

Fantastic performances

Lion dance

The show started off with the Lion Dance Troop who made a spectacular entrance into the Anson Rooms, getting up close to the seated audience.

The all-male group, Academy A Capella, impressed everyone with their rendition of Toxic by Britney Spears. They reached the UK finals last year and are focusing their efforts on releasing a debut album.

Siddarth Sreekanth performing Indian drumming

First-year Economics and Politics student Siddarth Sreekanth kept things upbeat with some fantastic Indian drumming. Originally from Bangalore, he performed on an instrument called the Mridangam (muh-ruh-dang-um), which is a percussion instrument used in Carnatic Music, which is a form of Indian classical music.

Gospel choir

Changing things up, the next act on stage was a collaboration between PakSoc and BanglaSoc – a fashion show which gave the audience a taste of their culture’s traditional clothing combined with popular music straight from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The lively performance featured beautiful outfits such as shalwar kamiz, longi and shervani with the models showing off the outfits whilst making fun poses and dancing along to their favourite songs!

The Gospel Choir were up next – a group of individuals who enjoy singing and praising God together. Their beautiful vocals and harmonies impressed all who were in the room.

Hosts, Roy and Lara broke things up with an interactive quiz, asking members of the audience to tell everyone what things they like about their own culture and also what they enjoy about others. There was great participation with many raising their hands to give their answers – most of which revolved around food!

The evening was rounded off with a Qawwali performance, which uses semi-classical Asian singing techniques and rhythmic clapping. This group is the UK’s first university-born qawwali group, called Virsa Qawwali.

 

 

A glimpse into the world of Indian dance

University of Bristol staff and students come together for a spectacular performance by postgraduate students, Aditya Sharma and Deepa Lakshimi.

The first big Global Lounge cultural event of 2020 didn’t disappoint, as members of the University community enjoyed a mesmorising performance by MSc Management (Marketing) student Aditya and MA Law student Deepa. Held in the Bristol SU‘s Anson Rooms, attendees enjoyed a stunning classical dance performance and delicious meal, organised by the Global Lounge, in collaboration with the postgraduate students, and professional dancers.

Almost 200 people attended the Indian dance event on Thursday 6 February, with a free delicious, authentic Indian meal and refreshments provided after the show, which many stayed on to enjoy whilst socialising and talking to the performers.

Aditya and Deepa showcased two very distinct and popular forms of Indian dance: Kathak [ka·tack] and Bharatanatyam [baa·ruh·tuh·na·tym], the first being a form of North Indian classical dancing which tells a story, and the latter a form of Indian classical ballet. Each of their performances was accompanied by a spoken introduction, explaining each dance and its meaning, as well as its cultural significance. Whilst staying true to the dance form, both performers presented a modern, fresh and personal take on the traditional roots of Indian choreography.

‘We did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous.’

Having attended previous Global Lounge events and seen a possibility to showcase his own culture and passion for dance, Aditya approached the team with the idea to hold an Indian dance event and, along with Deepa, curated a performance especially for the Global Lounge: ‘I heard about the Global Lounge when I first arrived in Bristol during the Welcome Week, and also attended a couple of their events which led to me getting in touch with them about holding my own. I’ve constantly been following their updates and events – everything they do is always so exciting.’

Aditya is a senior Kathak dancer with eight years’ experience, and the founder and artistic director of Yatra Dance productions (a classical dance choreography unit in Bangalore). Deepa Lakshmi is a senior Bharatanatyam artist from Chennai. She has been training in the discipline since the age of four and has received many accolades during her dance career.

 

Despite Deepa and Aditya’s experience and achievements, both were still nervous about the night and how their performance would be received: ‘we did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous, wondering how the audience would bounce off us, and would they be able to relate to the dances?’

‘It just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it.’

The elaborate performances and beautiful outfits made it an immersive and captivating experience, with both dancers commanding the stage and transporting the audience to another time and place, into the lives of the protagonists of their stories. Both dancers carefully curated their technique and style to showcase the art form in a modern and exciting way, while maintaining the roots and traditions of the choreography, music and performances – which clearly resonated with the audience. Speaking in the dressing room after the event, Deepa said: ‘it just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it. If you have the music, your feet are going to start tapping and you’re going to start dancing – you don’t need to know the background to enjoy it.’

‘The Global Lounge helps you get that one step further.’

In the giddiness of their post-performance adrenaline rush, both students were beaming after the show and – while still a little out of breath – spoke of their excitement at being able to perform in front of their peers, and to others in the University community. Both spoke of their passion and desire to give something back to the University, speaking positively of their time at Bristol and the support they’ve received: ‘the University really supports anything to do with cultural experience and I think the Global Lounge helps you get that one step further. The team are really, really helpful and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. They’ve made our entire journey really comfortable, and I think the University as a whole does a fantastic job.’

See some of Aditya and Deepa’s performance below, and check out all of the Global Lounge’s upcoming events.